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Author Archive for: jentwistle

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Simple Stretches to Improve Health and Productivity

Humans are not made for immobility. Even if you take a healthy joint and put it in a cast for even a few days, when you remove this the movement of the joint will be decreased, pain will appear, and muscles that surround the joint will have started to atrophy. So, how does this translate to jobs that require us to sit all day, being immobile at a computer, in a car, or at a desk?

It’s important for your physical and mental health to involve frequent movement into your day.  Not only will this help you combat the negative effects of “sitting disease,” it can help you to become more productive.  Take a look at the following from Positive Health Wellness for some tips and simple stretches to incorporate into your work day.

Positive Health Wellness: 12 Quick Stretches to Boost Day-time Productivity

To learn more about Sitting Disease and how you can prevent the negative effects, take a look at our previous post, “Solutions To Stop Sitting Disease.

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The Fidget Spinner – Useful or Distracting?

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

Co-written with Student Occupational Therapist Elizabeth Fallowfield

Last spring my daughter brought home a “fidget spinner” that she purchased off a kid at school.  She showed me how this worked as I had not seen it before.  After watching her use this I had flash backs to my pen-twirling days from University.  When I started my undergrad at the University of Waterloo, I noticed other students (many foreign) that would twirl or spin their pen in their hand during lectures.  I decided I too wanted to master this, and spent many-a-lecture working more on my pen-twirling skills than absorbing the worldly lessons of my professor.  Eventually, after launching a few pens rows ahead of me, or losing them altogether, I mastered the twirl, flip and spin with both my dominant and non-dominant hands.  Sometimes I would even get daring and twirl two pens at once (only in the really boring lectures of course).  To me, the fidget spinner serves the same purpose – give your hands something to do when you should otherwise be focusing and attending to something else.  But is this really the case?

The History of the Fidget Spinner…

The fad fidget spinners we saw in classrooms everywhere are a specific type of “fidget”, which can also include things like stress balls, fidget cubes, putty or smooth stones. The purpose of these “fidgets” are to allow for movement and sensory input – which then helps to either calm the body, or allow it to become more alert based on the sensory profile of the person, as assessed by a qualified therapist, such as an Occupational Therapist. The sensory profile is a depiction of the way that a person seeks, processes and organizes sensory input. It is this sensory profile which would determine for example, whether movement and fidgeting is beneficial – allowing someone to calm their body in order to stay seated throughout a lesson, or whether it would be overloading, or distracting.

For these reasons, fidgets were originally used as part of therapy for children with ADHD or Autism, who often have trouble regulating themselves in a classroom setting. However, the popular spinners we see in classrooms today are not a design of fidget commonly used for therapeutic treatment. A fidget cube is an example of a more therapeutic fidget that would provide tactile or touch stimulation without the visual distraction of spinning.

What Does the Research Say?

The Occupational Therapy profession is a leader in sensory processing assessment and research, and while these specific types of spinners are too new to have been researched specifically, the research on other types of spinners is clear – they can be equally helpful, harmful or neutral to a person’s focus depending on their unique sensory needs – which can only be accurately assessed by an Occupational Therapist or healthcare provider with training and experience in sensory processing theory and assessment.

The Bottom Line: Fidget Spinners are a Better Toy than a Therapy…

Parents and the general public should be cautious of the claims that fidget spinners are a broad and successful therapy tool for managing ADHD and Autism, or that they are globally effective at increasing attention and focus, or have a calming influence.  Truthfully, fidget spinners could be either an outlet to provide stimulation and to increase attention, or a distraction from something that is likely more important to be attending to (i.e. expensive University lectures). So, perhaps unless prescribed, these are best left at home this coming September.

 

References:

Barton, E., Reichow, B., Schnitz, A., Smith, I., Sherlock, D. (2015).  A systematic review of sensory‐based treatments for children with disabilities.  Research in Developmental Disabilities, 37, 64‐80.

Foss-Feig, J. H., Tadin, D., Schauder, K. B., & Cascio, C. J. (2013). A substantial and unexpected enhancement of motion perception in autism. Journal of Neuroscience, 33(19), 8243-8249.

Stalvey, S. and Brasell, H. (2006). Using Stress Balls to Focus the Attention of Sixth-Grade Learners. Journal of At-Risk Issues, 12, 2, 7-16.

Zimmer, M., Desch, L., Rosen, L. D., Bailey, M. L., Becker, D., Culbert, T. P., … & Adams, R. C. (2012). Sensory integration therapies for children with developmental and behavioral disorders. Pediatrics, 129(6), 1186‐1189.

 

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Weekly Mind Bender

Three playing cards in a row. Can you name all 3 with these clues?

  • There is a two to the right of a king.
  • A diamond will be found to the left of a spade.
  • An ace is to the left of a heart.
  • A heart is to the left of a spade.

Ace of Diamonds, King of Hearts, Two of Spades.

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Back to School: Back to Routine!

Due to vacations, sleepovers, and the unstructured nature of no school, daily routines are often disrupted over the summer months. A consistent daily routine for kids is critical to them learning responsibility, time management, and so they get a good sleep.  Therefore, in September it is important to re-establish what morning, after-school and bedtime time should look like.

Use our customizable free printable to help kids stay on track each day in the morning, after-school and before bed!  Be sure to review this with the kids before implementing, confirm the expectations, and get their commitment.  You’ll be well on your way to creating a less stressful and more organized home!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more helpful tools for children and adults visit our Printable Resources Page.

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Solutions for Managing Passwords

Online security experts recommend creating strong passwords with a mix of special characters, numbers and letters which are different for each application you use.  However, remembering one simple password is often hard enough!  Especially for applications you don’t use often, it is recommended you keep a log of each password so you can easily retrieve it when needed.  This is particularly helpful for seniors, or anyone dealing with cognitive issues, who may have difficulty remembering passwords, or have trusted family members and/or caregivers who may need access to these.

Use our printable Password Keeper to record these important online passwords and user names, and keep it in a safe place for future use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more helpful tools please visit our Printable Resources Page.

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Book Review: Enabling Positive Change – Coaching Conversations in Occupational Therapy

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

I always love a good book, but have never been one for those fiction novels complete with wizards, sorcerers, love affairs and who-done-it (and some have all four!).  So, the books I read are ones that teach me something, help me to grow personally, or at the least are readable one slow chapter at a time to encourage reflection.

This summer, I have enjoyed reading Enabling Positive Change – Coaching Conversations in Occupational Therapy by Pentland, Isaacs-Young, Gash and Heinz.  By way of background, I have always found coaching fascinating.  My first experience with a business / life coach was probably 10 years ago when I was looking for some guidance and insight on how to run my business better.  A few years later I connected with a different coach who helped me confirm that the path I was on (I had doubts) and allowed me to realize that I was exactly where I wanted to be.  Then, as my business grew and I felt isolated as an owner, I participated in more of a group coaching process that helped me for several years to build business confidence, to make some great decisions and all of this helped me to take my business to the next level.  Most recently, my business partner and I worked with an amazing coach who facilitated very deep conversations about where we are at, where we are going, and what we are truly trying to create – with insight on how to get there.

In reflecting on my experience with coaching further, I now understand that it really is a form of “occupational therapy” for people with desires and wants to do, manage, or live differently or better.  So, with this insight I was thrilled to see the combination of these two concepts:  coaching and occupational therapy in Enabling Positive Change:  Coaching Conversations in Occupational Therapy.

The book is chaptered by Occupational Therapists all over the world that use a coaching approach in their practice, and each chapter speaks to how coaching adds immense value to the OT profession.  The book first describes the coaching process, relates this to OT theory, practice and research, uses case and client examples to show the reader what coaching really looks like.  Then, it moves to worldly examples of OT and coaching that speak to the core of the OT profession and those of us that practice it.  I particularly enjoyed OT’s personal accounts of using coaching and OT to help them in their own journey, but to also assist clients with many aspects of returning to function: managing chronic pain, going back to work, helping children and their families, facilitating groups, improving mental health, getting discharged from hospital, navigating the insurance process, and developing new programs to name a few.  My favorite chapters, however (as these speak to my phase of life), were the chapters on coaching and mid-life, coaching executives and professionals, and using coaching to prevent burnout of health professionals (like OT’s!).  The book concludes with two very helpful sections about coaching education and training for OT’s, and the future possibilities for coaching and OT.

Honestly this book has a chapter for every OT at every stage and phase of career and really life. While I have always had an interest in coaching, this book has heightened my awareness as to why I have always found it personally helpful, and has also inspired me to look at coaching and coaching training more seriously as the next stage for me in my journey as an OT.  I recommend this as a “must read” for OT’s all over the globe.

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Back to School: Make Ahead School Lunches

Packing your child’s lunch can seem like a daunting, never ending task, but with a little prep work you can suffer short term pain for long term gain!  With just over 10 days left before the big day, try some of these tips and recipes care of The Organized Housewife for lunches and snacks you can make ahead and freeze, which can save you some early morning stress in September and beyond.

The Organized Housewife:  50+ Freezer friendly lunch box food ideas

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Back to School: OT’s Help Kids Succeed in the Classroom

As it’s back to school time we wanted to shed some light on the awesome work Occupational Therapists do to help children succeed in the school system.  From helping with IEP’s, to modifying the classroom environment, an Occupational Therapist can help to enhance the learning experience based on the individual needs of the child they are working with.  Learn more about how OT’s help kids in schools in the following care of the Ontario Society of Occupational Therapists. 

OSOT:  How can I benefit from OT?  Succeed at School